Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Grind Part 10 - Survival Talk (When “Feel-Good” Thinking is Not Enough)


Positive thinking is effective, impactful and helpful but it’s not always easy especially for people who get into deeper ruts and darker moods. There may be periods for some of us, when the typical “feel good” thoughts and inspirational phrases might seem like they just aren’t working for the moment. Sometimes a change in strategy is needed to get out from under the clouds of darkness during times like these. A little kickstart of survival talk may be what is needed. Consider some “Survival Talk” phrases for times like these:

Dark Gratitude: “At least I am not…. (Name a horrible circumstance that is way worse than your life now)”

One Minute at a Time: “One day at a time not enough – I’m doing one hour at a time or if that doesn’t work, one minute...”

Forced Attendance: “As much as I don’t feel like it, I am going to push myself to get up and show up with no guarantees what happens from there”

"Good Enough" Mode – “Me not losing it or completely quitting is going to have to be good enough for today.”

Exit Strategy – “I am not up for this, but I’ll go and if it stinks when I get there then I’m leaving” (The hope is with this strategy is that once you get yourself there, you will find the strength to stay)

Courage to Live – “Me just living life at the bare minimum today is an act of courage”

Obviously, as soon as you can, make sure to try to use your “go to” coping strategies that you know work. Whether that is breathing, walking, listening to music, praying, reading, calling a friend or whatever your essential crisis strategies for tough times may be, stick with what you know works once you get there. Still, if you find yourself needing a kick start first just to get to the point where you are ready to start trying to cope, remember some of these Survival Talk phrases that can work for you

Discussion: What is going to be your Survival Talk phrase for the really tough days?


Friday, June 24, 2022

Attitude Antonym Answers


  • Attitude - a complex mental state involving beliefs, feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways

  • AntonymAn antonym is a word that has the opposite meaning of another word

Intro: Attitude change is a huge part of recovery related to substance use and mental health issues. No one has a perfect attitude, so everyone can benefit from looking at negative attitude traits and then considering ways to change in a positive manner. This group exercise looks at some common negative attitude traits and the opposite, more positive attitude traits to strive for.

Directions: As a group, go through this list of some potentially negative attitude traits and try to come up with the antonym or opposite positive attitude trait. Everyone in the group should take note of some of the items on the list that they may be working on personally or need to start working on. Answers are provided in the second column, but the group leader should not reveal them until the group has come up with their own answers first



What are some strengths of this group (from the list)?


What are some things the group can work on? (Generally speaking - No naming names!)


What are some of your personal strengths from the list?


What are some you need to personally work on?


What are some specific things you start doing now or in the near future to improve your attitude?








Friday, June 17, 2022

Group Problem Solving

Group Problem Solving

We all have problems for sure. No one is immune to some degree of struggle and occasional strife Therefore no one alive has a problem-free life. Some people are better than others at problem solving. We can all improve in our abilities to tackle our problems successfully or at least manage our problems that don’t have available solutions. The fact is that our attitude and our effort toward our problems makes an enormous difference.

One benefit of being in a group program is that the group can be a valuable resource for ideas, inspiration, support and motivation for effective problem solving. Each one of us is responsible for taking the lead in facing our problems however, having help from others in the group can be a powerful asset in the problem-solving process. This opening exercise is focused on discussing problems openly as a group and then using the group as a resource for creative solutions and support in the problem-solving process.


Opening exerciseAccept and Begin

Directions: Take turns with one group member at a time sharing a personal life problem to start the session. The problem expressed can be about anything large or small. Try to share by making a problem statement and then let the rest of the group know what it is. Some examples of problem statements:


1.    “I have to stop using drugs and stay that way because of my legal situation”


2.    “I am unemployed, and I don’t even know where to begin to get a career going in my life”


Then, as a group, give some feedback using the “Accept and Begin” format:


You may have to accept … but then you can begin….”



Problem 1 above:


  • ·       “You may have to accept that you won’t be able to use drugs anymore, but you can certainly begin to try to stop using for today and then take it one day at a time from there”


  • ·       “You may have to accept that it will not be easy but then you can begin to focus more on completing this program to see if it helps you to eventually resolve your legal situation”


Problem 2 above:


  • ·       “You may have to accept starting at a crappy job that doesn’t pay well but you can begin by sticking with it and working toward building experience and eventually getting a better job with time.


  • ·       “You may have to accept that you may need to go back to school by then you can begin to try to find a program that you are interested in and apply for financial aid so you can get an education in a career that interests you.



Take turns as a group sharing problem statements then listening to group feedback using the Accept and Begin format as shown in the examples above.




Skill Building: 

The Problem-Solving Process:


Keep in mind that there are many ways to go about solving problems, however this is just one outline for constructively strategizing to engage effectively in the problem-solving process with good outcomes:



1)   Attitude Shift – Problem solving starts with escaping a negative attitude state and then getting into a positive and hopeful outlook.

  • ·       Get out of stuck mode: It is important to end thoughts that can keep us stuck like “this is too hard for me to handle” and “what’s the point in trying” Stuck mode can last many years, even a lifetime. It can be fueled by helplessness, hopelessness, self-pity, or fear. To get out of this mode we must believe that we can make things better.


  • ·Get into problem solving mode – Prepare yourself with thoughts like “I can do this” and “If I keep at it, things will get better” The previous exercise set the stage for problem solving mode which starts with acceptance of the problem then choosing to begin to do something about it – Accept and Begin


2)   Think and Plan – Be creative and optimistic (but realistic too) Get Information and consult with reliable sources (Be careful with the internet and with people who gossip) Come up at least with a basic plan to get yourself started on your problem-solving journey

3)   Start small and go forward from there – Problem solving often starts with baby steps in the right direction rather than big miraculous changes. Its okay to start by doing a little bit then increasing steadily from there


4)   Find Support and Encouragement – It can be so challenging to solve problems alone. Any source of support and encouragement can be so valuable for problem solving. Seek sources for support and encouragement in your problem-solving quest.


5)   Build momentum and keep going – Once you get going keep going. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race. When you fall, keep getting up. Most people who successfully conquer a problem in life do so through patience and persistence over time


6)   Maintain – Stay the course. When the problem-solving process is working for you, keep at it. Going back and making sure you are doing steps 1 – 5 in this process can be essential in maintaining satisfactory progress.


How can you use this problem-solving process in your life to work through an important problem successfully?




Friday, June 10, 2022

The Space Between

The Space Between

Background – So much of what impacts our life happens in this space:


The Space Between Feeling & Impulse and Words & Actions:


Feeling and Impulse à-----------The Space Between ----------------à Words/Actions


This original concept is attributed to Austrian neurologist Victor Frankel, who said:

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Change Mode


Change Mode

Background (Read) - Such a huge part of making progress toward goals is simply staying conscious and focused on what we need to achieve for as much of the day as possible and for as many active days as possible. It almost impossible for most people to stay in change mode 24/7-365, but the people who get positive results master the ability to maximize time spent consciously aware of their change goals and skills

Think, for instance, of going on a diet. The person who thinks about their dietary goals before even considering what food to put in their mouth is going to fare so much better that the person who unknowingly or impulsively gets some food and then decides afterward if it’s a good idea to eat it or not. In this example, thinking about the diet earlier in the process (like when ordering groceries or picking a meal from a menu) is so much more effective than ordering a cheeseburger and then willfully trying not to eat all of it

When we stay in change mode, we avoid so many difficult challenges and tough decisions that can stumble progress. It can be challenging to stay in change mode, but like with most things, with practice it gets easier.

What are some things that can help use stay in change mode? – Review and discuss the following ideas below with a view toward completing a “Change Mode Change Plan” on the following page based on this information

Reminders – What helps you remember your goals all day long? What can you keep in front of you to help you stay aware of your goals?

o  Note or picture on the fridge

o  Rubber band on the wrist

o  Notification on cell phone scheduler

o  Habit tracker app on cell phone



Energizers – What words, phrases, sayings, pictures, etc. inspire and motivate you and keep the “fire”” of change burning inside you? (Examples below)

o  “Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” — Jim Rohn

o  You've got to get up every morning with determination if you're going to go to bed with satisfaction.” — George Lorimer

o  “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” —Albert Einstein

o  "A year from now you will wish you had started today." —Unknown




Supporters – Who can you turn to say the right thing at the right moment to keep you going when you need it?



Deflectors – When you come across a relapse trigger or experience a craving, what helps “deflect” you from going down a negative path by pointing you in a better direction?



Rebounders – When you feel like you may be going backward or if you give in a little bit or slip into a minor setback what helps you to quickly bounce back to where you need to be?





My change goal is (be specific) –



What does “Change Mode” look like for me? (How do I know I am in change mode?) –




Here is what will help me stay in change mode:


o  Reminders:



o  Energizers



o  Supporters



o  Deflectors



o  Rebounders



Finally, what does “success” look like for me? (How will I know I am there?)